Students coming from countries where English is not the first language may have difficulty expressing their ideas in fluent English. A large number of them can write English exceptionally well, but speaking is rather difficult for them. Here are a few tips that will help you improve your English speaking skills.
The way you pronounce the words is important. Learn the correct pronunciation of each word. If your pronunciation is wrong, the listeners may have difficulty understanding your speech. To improve your pronunciation, listen to native English speakers. If you can’t find any in your region, listen to English radio and television programs. The BBC is an excellent solution for those who want to improve their English pronunciation. By listening to native English speakers, you will also learn where to stress important words.
While learning new words, note their pronunciation as well as the meaning. Good dictionaries usually give the pronunciation of words, but if you are not familiar with the phonetic alphabet, you may not be able to understand them properly. Electronic dictionaries are helpful in this case. They help you hear the correct pronunciation of each word.
During speaking a lot of ideas are conveyed through stress and intonation. Intonation shows the way the musical pitch of the voice rises and falls. English has a complicated intonation system. It is nearly impossible for a student who has never listened to a native English speaker to understand how the English intonation system works. So how do you get around this problem? Listen. Listening is the only solution to this problem. Listen to English films, documentaries and radio programs.
Read out short passages slowly and correctly. While reading, try to pronounce each word correctly. Pay careful attention to stress and intonation. Slowly but steadily increase the speed with which you read.
Stand in front of a mirror and start speaking about a topic of your choice. Do you make any awkward gestures while speaking? If you do, correct them then and there itself. Try to speak as naturally as possible. Don’t speak too fast or too slow. The speed with which you speak, your voice quality, loudness and intonation can say a lot of things about your attitude. Speak in an audible voice. The examiner must be able to hear you without having to try.
Learn some common idioms and verb phrases. It isn’t absolutely necessary, but idioms and phrasal verbs will help you sound naturally. Remember that the English that native English speakers speak is highly idiomatic. That said, you should not make a conscious effort to fill your speech with idioms. It will only make you sound unnatural.